Attack on Italian consulate seen as part of general intimidation
Italy's prime minister, Matteo Renzi, and foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, have been quick to show their solidarity with Egypt's president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in the wake of the bombing of the Italian consulate on 11 July in which one Egyptian was killed and nine others injured, two of them seriously. The explosion, which occurred at 06.30 on Saturday morning, damaged the outside of the consulate as well as several surrounding buildings.
The Italian foreign minister flew to Cairo on Monday 13 July to have talks with his counterpart and with the Italian embassy.
He repeated several times that Italy will not be intimated by such violence and said that although the bombing was directed at the Italian consulate it was clear that this was a warning against western diplomatic missions in general.
In an interview with Al Jezeera in Rome, recorded on 8 July before the consulate bombing but viewed the day after in Italy, Prime Minister Renzi also showed his support for Egypt and President al-Sisi in particular. Calling him a “great leader”, and “a friend”, Renzi added that in his personal opinion “Egypt will only be saved with the leadership of al-Sisi” - a reply that came as part of his answer to the correspondent's question about what Renzi thought of the clampdown on the media in Egypt, especially that against Al Jazeera journalists.
The Egyptian security forces have pinned the Italian consulate bombing on three terrorists from what was once called the Ansar Beit el Maqdes group, based in north Sinai (now called Sinai Province) and thought to be responsible for many of the attacks there, as well as the killing of Egypt's chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat at the end of June. Recently the group has been acting with the support of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
The tragedy at the Italian consulate was vindicated by a new, or renamed, group calling itself “IS in Egypt”. It was caused by the detonation of a car bomb and is similar in many ways to that which killed Egypt's chief prosecutor on 29 June.